U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, one of the Colorado representatives trapped in the House chambers Wednesday as rioters pounded on the doors, joined a growing group of lawmakers calling for President Donald Trump’s removal from office.
Neguse, a Democrat who represents Fort Collins and the rest of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, is calling for invocation of the 25th Amendment. Another member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, Rep. Diana DeGette, called for impeachment, but she told the Coloradoan Thursday afternoon that she would also support invocation of the 25th Amendment.
Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado’s 6th District said he supports Trump’s removal through either method.
Neguse and DeGette described a harrowing scene in the chambers Wednesday, as lawmakers and staff took cover amid loud noises that sounded like gunshots. DeGette said it became clear something was horribly wrong when she saw the chaplain praying at the dais and police told lawmakers to put on gas masks hidden beneath their chairs.
“You are sitting in the seat of the nation’s capital, the seat of government for the most powerful country in the history of the world,” Neguse said. “The kind of attack that we witnessed and experienced on Capitol, I never would have imagined, ever, that would happen to the United States of America.”
Neguse said Trump must be removed from office to ensure a peaceful transition of power. President-elect Joe Biden is set for inauguration Jan. 20.
Other members of Colorado’s delegation hadn’t yet commented on the prospect of removal as of Thursday morning. Two members of the delegation — Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn — supported House objections of two states’ presidential election results. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents eastern Colorado’s 4th District, voted against one objection and did not vote on the other.
The rest of Colorado’s delegation, all Democrats, voted against efforts to stall certification of Biden’s victory in the House and Senate.
Congress finally certified Biden’s win close to 4 a.m. Thursday. Trump conceded shortly after in a statement where he continued to promote false claims about the election but promised an “orderly transition” of power.
The 25th Amendment allows a majority of the president’s cabinet and the vice president to remove the president from office if they believe he is unable to continue his duties. Trump could object to invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would trigger a vote in Congress. A two-thirds majority in both chambers would then have to support his removal, or the effort would fail.
A successful impeachment process would require, at the very least, a simple majority floor vote in the House and a trial in the Senate followed by a two-thirds majority vote. Trump was acquitted in the Senate during the 2019 effort to impeach him.
Neguse said he favors the 25th Amendment process in part because it might be faster than impeachment, but he added that the latter is “certainly an option.”
“You have, literally, an insurrection at the seat of government, incited by a president through his incendiary remarks and rhetoric,” Neguse said. “I’m sure our caucus, over the course of the next several days, will be discussing at great length the various different ways to ensure that our Republic is protected and that it endures. But in the immediate future, I think invoking the 25th Amendment would be the fastest way to ultimately ensure that this peaceful transition of power, which was interrupted yesterday, continues unabated.”
DeGette said Wednesday’s events were an attempted coup, not a protest, and added that “I never thought I’d see the day that our own president would attempt to bring down our government because he lost an election.”
“Whatever it takes to get rid of this man as fast as possible, I favor that,” she told the Coloradoan. “People say, ‘Oh it’s only two weeks.’ There’s a lot of damage he could do in two weeks.”
Crow shared his input on removal in a Thursday afternoon Twitter statement.
“We have known for a long time that Donald Trump is violent and unstable,” he said. “After what happened yesterday, 13 days is too long. He needs to be removed from office — whether it be invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment. We must protect our democracy.”
Here’s what other members of Colorado’s delegation had to say Wednesday night and Thursday.
Rep. Ken Buck
In an interview with KOA’s morning radio show on Thursday, Buck didn’t call for Trump’s impeachment or removal. He called Wednesday’s riot “a peaceful protest that got out of control” and called some of the participants “knuckleheads.”
He said Trump is “partly to blame” for what happened at the Capitol on Wednesday, but he added that his Republican and Democratic colleagues, as well as the media, also share blame for the “hateful rhetoric” in American politics.
“I think (Trump) got the crowd ginned up, and he’s gotten the American people ginned up,” Buck said. “I think most of what he has said about the election being stolen is false. There is plenty of other blame to go around. If anybody in this country thinks that when President Trump is gone, the hateful rhetoric is going to cease, it’s nonsense.”
He defended himself again the suggestion that his past discussion of election “irregularities” contributed to the misinformed belief among rioters that the election was stolen from Trump.
“While I try to improve the system, I hope people don’t misunderstand and suggest that I’m trying to tear down the system or suggest that an election was stolen,” he said. “… if there are people out there that hear what they want to hear and take stupid actions, they need to take responsibility for that.”
DeGette, asked by the Coloradoan about Buck’s assertion that both parties bear blame, said the argument is wrong.
People who say that “are forgetting the fact that there was one person, and that’s the President of the United States, who stood down there and told the people to march up and take the Capitol,” DeGette said. “This is directly in the lap of Donald Trump and his Republican enablers. It’s not the whole party, but I think that they’ve let it go on too long.”
Sen. Michael Bennet
Bennet hasn’t yet commented on the prospect of impeachment or removal. But on the Senate floor early Thursday morning, he compared the events at the Capitol to the fall of the Roman Republic, when “armed gangs — doing the work for politicians — prevented Rome from casting their ballots.”
He implored his colleagues to universally reject the effort to stall certification of the election results.
“… it is my fervent hope that the way that we respond to this today … is that we give the biggest bipartisan vote we can in support of our democracy, and in support of our Constitution, and in rejection for what we saw today,” he said. “If we follow what they have proposed, we will be the ones that will have disenfranchised every single person who cast a vote in this election, whether they voted for the president, or they didn’t. I urge you to reject this.”
Sen. John Hickenlooper
Colorado’s newly minted senator hasn’t yet commented on the prospect of Trump’s removal from office. He released a brief statement Wednesday saying he and his staff were safe.
“It’s a sad day for our country, but our democracy is stronger than the dangerous attack on the Capitol today,” he wrote.
Hickenlooper was just sworn into office on Sunday. He also rejected Senate efforts to object to election results.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter
Perlmutter also spoke to KOA radio on Thursday morning. He didn’t call for Trump’s removal, but he said he was angry about Wednesday’s events and added that “this president can’t be out of here soon enough.”
He said some of his Republican colleagues have served as “enablers” and decried Trump’s “phony baloney lies” about supposed election fraud.
“I think once Trump is gone, a lot of this subsides,” Perlmutter told the radio station. “I don’t want to cut some of these guys slack, but on the other hand … we’ve got to get this inauguration done, get Joe Biden and Kamala Harris into office. … We can get on with the business of this country and get on with providing the relief and the direction that so many people and communities need.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert
Boebert briefly spoke to constituents on social media on Wednesday, informing them she was safe and in an undisclosed location after she tweeted that legislators were locked in the House Chambers and that the speaker of the house had been safely removed.
“I support peaceful protests and the rule of law, and denounce all acts of violence,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am grateful to the Capitol Police for their service. Thank you for keeping us safe.”
At the same time, she remains in support of a largely right-wing effort to dispute the electoral college vote. She tweeted late Wednesday night that she signed her name to the document on that day.
“1776 is the foundation of our country,” she wrote. “The violence we saw today is inexcusable. Pray for America.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn
Lamborn hasn’t yet commented on the prospect of removal, and he wasn’t immediately available for an interview. In a statement posted on Twitter Wednesday, he wrote:
“I strongly condemn those individuals that have chosen to incite violence and have put our law enforcement in harm’s way. Today is supposed to be a day of constitutional debate, not violence. This is not who we are as Americans.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:53 p.m. to correct wording in a quote from Rep. Joe Neguse. He called the president’s remarks in advance of the Capitol riot “incendiary.”
Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.